Kansas Offers Citizens Game-like Tool for Budget Play

The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering citizens the opportunity to try their hand at balancing its budget – or not – via an innovative web-based tool.

Writing for the New York Times’ Freakonomics blog, UCLA transportation researcher Eric Morris praises T-Link:

I can’t help but wonder how many urban planners were inspired to enter the profession by computer games like SimCity or Railroad Tycoon… these programs convey information about arcane topics like utility maintenance costs and right-of-way clearance in a fun and accessible manner…


Now the Kansas Department of Transportation has come up with a neat way to both educate the public about its services and get valuable feedback about customer preferences, using a game-like format. The T-Link Calculator allows you to set transportation policy in Kansas and see the fiscal results of your choices…


By presenting the information this way, [KDOT] reaches out to voters (particularly younger ones) who are accustomed to interactivity and immediate feedback from their information sources. I have a feeling that many people who would never think of sitting down and reading the state budget will warm to playing “transportation god” on this site.

Moreover, the site makes it clear that we can’t ask for everything from our government; tough budgetary choices have to be made…

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One comment

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    Bennett Beeny says:

    This is great!  In recent years I’ve noticed more than a few elections in which the voters have taken the quick and easy choice (usually stuff that seemed like a good deal – like tax cuts), only to find later that it meant cutbacks in areas that they might have realised were more important if they had put a bit of thought into what their choice meant.  Programs like this make people aware of the fact that no choice is free of consequence.

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